wild flowers

Photo taken in Burgebrach, Germany

Background Text: Genesis 1:11-13, 20-25

Devotional Text: Isaiah 58:11

It’s summertime and the mountainsides are lush with greenery.

As I travel down country roads, I see trees full with leaves now that winter’s barrenness is long behind us.

So far this summer, where I live in New York, we are receiving a pretty equal balance of rain and sun, with sweltering high temperatures and then comfortable lows.

On my property, where I have a rather large bird feeder, I have been seeing a wonderful variety of birds. I also scatter seed on the ground, currently being consumed at a rapid rate by a squirrel and a chipmunk.

The country fields are full of growing plants. The produce of summer looks healthy in both gardens and fields.

Occasionally, I’ve been visited by a groundhog, and have seen deer along with their fawns along the road at sunrise and sunset.

It fills my heart with the wonderfulness of God’s creation. It reminds me of the Scripture found in Genesis 1, especially verses 11-13, where we read of God creating vegetation, plants and trees bearing fruit and seed.

Then, in verses 20-25, we read about the creation of the “creatures of the sea, and the birds of the air, the living creatures of the land, wild animals and livestock of all kinds.”

We truly live in a wonderful creation all around us. For this column, we will be looking at the Old Testament Scriptures that speak of the earth, the mountains, the creatures and “a well-watered garden.”

Let’s start with the Psalms.

In Psalm 36, David writes of God’s love, contrasting it with the sinfulness in the world.

In speaking of God’s love for us, we read in verses 6-9:

“Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep.

“O Lord, you preserve both man and beast. How priceless is your unfailing love.

“Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.

“They feast on the abundance of your home; you give them drink from your river of delights.

“For with you is the fountain of life; in your light, we see light.”

In this portion of Psalm 36, David is writing about those who shun evil and are upright in heart. Mentioning God’s creations from mountains to oceans, human beings and other animals, we then see how God sustains us. For God is “the fountain of life,” and we see his creation all around us.

Psalm 104 is by an anonymous author. It is in praise of God’s creation, resounding with the phrase, “Praise the Lord, O my soul.”

In this psalm, we see mention of the glories of God’s creation, from his “setting the earth on its foundation,” to the separation of water and mountains, the making of springs flowing through the mountains, giving water to the beasts of the field, grass for the cattle, plants for people to cultivate, the trees where the birds build their nests, the goats climbing high mountains, and so much more.

It is a great psalm that spells out God’s creation along with his provision of food and water and shelter. Here, we see that God not only created, but also cares for the needs of his creation. That, of course, includes us.

The psalmist ends this Scripture with verses 33-34: “I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to him as I rejoice in the Lord.”

'A Well-Watered Garden'

As we look at the countryside around us today, as we go to the sandy beaches and look at the ocean, as we plant our gardens and raise our farm animals, it is good to feel the joy of God’s wonderful creation.

Lastly, we will look at some of the Scripture found in Isaiah. Beginning with Isaiah 52:7, we read, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’”

God is pleased with us when we can bring joy and peace and the good news of our Savior, especially to those who are hurting and may feel lost.

Because we are part of God’s creation, the Holy Spirit nudges us to share God’s love with others, either through help when there is a need, or a word about trusting in God when someone feels at wit’s end.

Isaiah 58:11 has this to say to us: “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”

Once again, we see the prophet using the symbolism of God’s creation as he speaks in this section about truly fasting. It is not enough to fast for yourself and gain your own growth in the Lord. True fasting includes serving others, making your fast count for more that you.

In other places in Scripture we are admonished not to wear old clothes and walk around like we are suffering as we fast. That has no glorification to God but displays our own poor state of mind.

Instead, when fasting, exude God’s joy and love. Smile at those you meet. Wear good clothes. Be a friend. Be a neighbor.

Then you will be “like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”

Next week, we will look at what the New Testament says about God’s creation. Meanwhile, enjoy God’s wonderful creation all around you.

The Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh is the pastor of Schenevus United Methodist Church in Schenevus, New York.

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